Jason Kenney is in a running war of words with Alberta Education Minister Dave Eggen over Christian schools that refuse to implement the NDP-mandated pro-LGBTQ policies.
On the campaign trail for the Progressive Conservative leadership, Kenney blasted Eggen for “lobbing rhetorical bombs” at the schools, which are run by the Baptist Christian Education Society.
“I’m just suggesting that the minister and his officials should not seek conflict in the media,” Kenney told reporters after a rally in Edmonton, according to the CBC. “If they have a concern or issue with individual schools, they should discretely and with respect and civility sit down and try to find a solution.”
The Baptist Christian Education Society’s board chair, Spruce Grove pastor Brian Coldwell, stated in August that the board’s two schools, which have a total of about 200 students, will not permit gay-straight alliances nor provide “poly-gender washrooms” for transgendered students, even though Bill 10 mandates all schools must provide these as part of “anti-bullying” measures to protect sexual minorities.
The bill also demands that every school board develop a policy to protect LGBTQ students.
Eggen responded to Coldwell by stating that he would “not rule out” cutting funding to the schools, which comprises about 70 per cent of the private schools’ instructional revenue.
Kenney’s Edmonton remarks echoed his observations on Sept. 9 in Calgary in which he said Bill 10 is “the law of Alberta,” but “freedom of association and religion are also the law of the land, the first fundamental freedoms enumerated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“So I would hope that the Alberta government would seek a generous sensible, balanced approach,” Kenney told a crowd at Calgary’s Economic Club of Canada, adding that Eggen was “trying to score political points” and that the minister should meet privately with Coldwell to work out a compromise. “I think he should take a more measured approach. He and his officials ought to meet with any schools in question and work out a sensible Alberta compromise or solution.”
Eggen lashed back, telling reporters that he found it “curious that someone would counsel the government to compromise on what is a very clear law that was created to protect vulnerable children, to create a safe and caring environment for kids in schools,” according to the Calgary Sun.
Speaking Sept. 13 before an NDP cabinet meeting at the McDougall Centre, Eggen said Kenney was “obviously confused if he thinks he can negotiate law. That’s not how things work.”
Pastor Coldwell told LifeSiteNews in an earlier interview that he has been asking Eggen to meet with him for more than a year. “And we’ve asked again after we sent him our anti-bullying policy in March. But even though he refuses to sit down with us personally, he’s willing to make threats like this to reporters. That’s just not good management.”
According to the CBC, Eggen has asked Coldwell for an assurance from him in writing by Sept. 16 that the Baptist schools will comply with Bill 10 but has not specified what the consequences will be if the schools do not do so.
Meanwhile, Kenney, a well-known social conservative who has embarked on a quest to unite the right in Alberta in order to take down Rachel Notley’s NDP, resigned as Conservative MP for Calgary-Midnapore on Sept. 23. That will bring to an end a high-profile career as a federal politician that began in 1997, when Kenney was elected as a Reform MP.
When launching his bid for leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, in July, Kenney decried the “ideological agenda” of the leftist NDP, pointing out that the Notley government is “planning ‘radical changes to the school curriculum’.”
“You know what that means for these ideologues,” he said then. “It doesn’t mean better measurable school outcomes. It means social engineering and pedagogical fads in our schools.”
This article originally appeared Sept. 16 at LifeSiteNews and is used with permission.